Chapter 34: The Return?

We're about to find out if Bruce will bring back Batman.

Superman was doing his best to keep Hannah preoccupied in the hopes that Diana would be able to take advantage of Bruce joining her out on the balcony terrace. He was certain that Bruce had to have seen Diana heading there, and if that was the case, then his joining her would also mean he'd at least be willing to talk to Diana. Superman knew that if anyone could convince Bruce to change his mind about giving up Batman, it would be Diana.

So, once Superman had noticed Hannah beginning to trek in that direction after her fiance, he made the move to block her path. He relied on his experience as a reporter to help keep a conversation between the two of them going in spite of her occasional attempts to peer out around him in the direction of the terrace. But soon enough, she implemented the same escape card of an impromptu restroom break that Diana had pulled to evade her unwanted company.

Hannah inadvertently brushed shoulders against the Man of Steel as she passed by him, and he was immediately alarmed due to the fact that her contact had actually managed to move him, if even fractionally. It was at that moment when he took notice of the growing perspiration that had started to formulate on his forehead. He was also beginning to feel a little ill, and that was when a waiter was shoved to the ground, causing the tray of champagne flutes he'd been holding to shatter onto the ballroom floor.

In the next moment, the only three available exit points were bombarded by black clad men carrying assault rifles. Upon seeing this, Superman glanced over toward Bruce's fiancé, and didn't hesitate for a second as he protectively stepped in front of her. She was standing ramrod straight, seemingly paralyzed by what was happening around them. "Find some cover." He barked at her as confidently as he could muster given the ever increasing sick feeling he was experiencing.

"Better do as the old cape says." An odd looking man standing close to them said as he opened his suit jacket, revealing a green glow emanating from his suspenders. "He's not going to be able to bounce bullets off his chest for much longer, what with my new little gems here."

Superman's eyes widened in instant realization as he felt the full effect of the inlaid Kryptonite shards hitting him from the man's suspenders. In a matter of seconds he didn't even have the strength to remain on his feet. "How..."

"Brokered a little deal with a fellow acquaintance of yours, Superman." Penguin said as he pushed the hero to the ground while pulling out a cigar, and lighting it up before turning to his new crowd of hostages. "Ladies and gents." He said with an overly dramatized bow. "Begging the pardon for the interruption, but I have a little problem with this proposed plan of yours. You see, all you rich, high and mighty buggers seem to have forgotten your place in this little neck of the woods here."

"You have some current 'tenants' who happen to live and function outta the area you're trying to bulldoze over for this housing development plan of yours, and you're about to find out firsthand that some of us aren't going to sit back and allow it to happen. This is Gotham. It's our town, and it'd be best for your collective health to accept that fact will never change."

Superman struggled and managed to get back to his hands and knees, but unfortunately Penguin took notice of his movement. The arms dealer then returned his focus solely back onto the Man of Steel again, and he offered a well placed kick to the ribs to again drop Superman to the floor. To ensure there were no other attempts to interfere, Penguin also removed his suspenders and proceeded to secure them around Superman's body. Penguin then seemed to arrive at an epiphany of sorts.

"I almost forgot that there were two of you freak, Justice League do gooders out here tonight." Penguin said to Superman as he began peering around the room. "Where's Wonder Woman?"

Diana spared a brief glance to Bruce after hearing her title being called out. Diana knew she could stop Penguin and his men in just a few seconds, but not without causing some casualties. Both she and Bruce recognized that there were simply too many guns pointed at innocent people to just charge in with a full frontal assault. Penguin had obviously done his research, even knowing whom among the Justice League were in attendance.

The only advantage they had was that for the moment, Penguin didn't seem to have any interest in knowing if Bruce Wayne was among the hostages. He'd been marked as just another one of Gotham's rich and powerful who happened to be attending the event. "What's the play?" Diana whispered as Penguin was already roaming about the mass of people in search of his second Justice League member.

Bruce tried to think of something quickly, and pulled out his cell phone only to discover that the Penguin had been ready for any attempts to communicate with anyone outside the building. There must have been a jammer of some sort strategically placed in order to block any attempted transmissions or phone calls from the building, and that meant there was no way to contact the rest of the League or the Batclan from inside the building. The best option would be for Diana to fly far enough away to send out a distress signal and then return, but that plan went out the door when Penguin suddenly and aggressively pulled up a random hostage.

"You have to the count of three to give yourself up or this pretty little number here becomes the first of the victims I'll have killed for every ten seconds that you don't show yourself." Penguin threatened just before he started counting. "One...two..."

"I'm right here!" Wonder Woman shouted as she walked fully into the room with her hands held high in surrender. "No innocent lives need to be lost on this night."

The penguin barked out in laughter to the point of suffering a coughing fit before eventually composing himself. "Innocent?" He questioned. "Don't you know where you are? There's no one that's innocent in Gotham. The only people here are the ones who get rich playing dirty, or the ones that dig through the dirt so others can stay rich. These 'innocent' people you speak of are just trying to snuff out my business in order to fill their pocket books. The charity is just for show and everyone here knows it."

"You may want to believe that, but I've seen goodness from the people of Gotham." Diana stated as she tried to steal away a closer look at the incapacitated Superman before being directly confronted by the odorous, bald headed menace.

Diana thought back to the memorized the files that Bruce had submitted into the League database of known enemies. Oswald Cobblepot was believed to be more the type of man to allow his minions to do most of the dirty work rather than get his own hands dirty. He'd been a well established weapons dealer for years, and had used that to help him ascend into a criminal warlord of sorts. The umbrella served as his weapon of choice, and could be a multitude of different weapons depending upon which one he'd selected for this particular occasion.

Cobblepot taking on an active role most likely meant that he wanted to make a very distinct point, and for the moment she had no choice but to comply with his demands. She only hoped that Bruce would find a way to give her an opening as she was powerless to do anything but comply for the moment.

"Down on your knees, Barbie girl." He demanded of her.

Bruce didn't waste any time in moving as soon as Diana was forced to surrender so as to protect others. He wasn't about to let her actions be for naught as he moved out to the railing and peered down below. A quick glance was all he needed to diagnose that the drop from where he was standing would surely kill him. He had to find another way out and soon, but there was no way to get to another exit. Penguin's men were positioned strategically so as to prevent anyone from escaping.

The only option he could come up with was to try scaling down the side of the building. He discreetly went over to the where the balcony railing met the outer wall of the building and climbed over the railing in order to walk along the narrow ledge that went around the building. His hope was to find an access point to get in while also bypassing the armed guards.

He stopped at every window, trying to open each one. He'd initially hoped that one of them would be unlocked, but soon found that was not the case. He knew that he couldn't try to break the glass as there just wasn't enough space on the ledge to put the necessary force behind a strong enough strike to actually break the glass. At that point that there seemed to be no other choice but to try lowering himself onto the ledge below, and hope to get lucky with one of the windows on that floor.

Bruce focused on the task at hand, using all the strength in his hands to grip the ledge he'd been walking on as he began to lower himself toward the next ledge below. Beads of sweat began to form as he soon discovered that despite his above average height and even with his arms fully extended, his feet still couldn't touch the next ledge below him. In order to get to it, he was going to have to let go and land while keeping his balance.

To make matters worse, the ledge below him didn't have as flat a surface as the one he was currently hanging on to, but if he wanted to save the people, he had to take the risk. Calculations flew through his mind as he took in all of the elements and obstacles. He couldn't just let go and drop straight down. The risk was simply too high that he might not land securely. However, if he were to attempt swinging his body forward, there was then the risk of hitting the wall before his feet touched down on the ledge. He was going to have to swing himself into the building with just enough momentum.

Bruce used his legs to create a small swinging motion, and just as he passed the point where he'd been originally dangling, he let go. At that point, time seemed to hold still. It almost felt as though his body was in a state of limbo before gravity's effect finally took its hold on him. He landed somewhat awkwardly, and quickly came to the conclusion that he had nothing to grab onto as his balance waned from such poor footing. In a desperate attempt to locate any form of a saving grace before he fell, Bruce looked over toward that floor's balcony. He could see by the distance that he'd have to jump as far as he could in order to have any chance.

So Bruce bent his knees and spring-boarded himself off the ledge in the direction of the balcony just before his feet slipped from the ledge. He glanced down for just a moment as his arms stretched up toward the railing, but then focused on his target. He needed to survive this. The people of Gotham needed him to. Hannah's safety depended on him. Diana had sacrificed herself in order to save people, and he wasn't about to fail her.

He gave up on trying to reach with both hands, and instead focused on just one in an attempt to extend a bit farther. Bruce reached as far as his body allowed, gritting his teeth and hoping he'd jumped far enough. Gravity once again started to take its hold, and doubt that he was going to make it began to sink in, until finally he felt his salvation make contact with his outstretched hand. He immediately clamped on with a vice-like grip, and then released the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding as he dangled from the railing. Soon enough, he moved past the gratification that he'd made it, and reached up with his right hand to start pulling himself up. He still had more to do.

Once on the lower balcony, Bruce tested the door handles, but unsurprisingly found the doors to be locked. He concluded without even making an attempt that there was little point in trying to go for a window. The shape of the ledge would make it too difficult. He didn't want to because of the noise, but knew there were few, if any other options. So he forced his way in through the balcony doors with a mighty front kick.

He knew that he needed to get out of the building soon so that he could send out a distress call before it was too late. However, and just as he'd expected, he soon heard shouting coming from the floor above. Someone from the Penguin's crew had heard the ruckus he'd caused as he knew they would, and orders were being shouted. Bruce knew it only be a matter of time before some of the Penguin's men would be coming down to investigate. He figured at the most he might have a precious two or three minutes to prepare before company would arrive, and as a result, he had a decision to make.

There would be no distress call. Instead he decided use the current situation as an opportunity to create a diversion. Perhaps with Diana's help he might be able to take down Penguin and his men before anyone else could be hurt in the confusion. The first step was to take care of his impending company, so he quickly scanned the area for potential weapons, cover, anything that might be useful to him.

He took note of some offices that could potentially help to divide up any men that Penguin sent. If needed, they could also serve as a form of cover to duck into. On a nearby desk, he picked up a letter opener to use as a dull knife. The only downfall he discovered was that there didn't seem to be anything of use to hide his identity.

His plan hinged on not being seen if at all possible, and in order to maintain that plan, he made the choice to utilize some of his available cover of an office room. It was the best case scenario if the thugs chose to turn on the lights when they arrived.

The chime of the elevator provided the alert when his "guests" arrived. He watched from his cover as three men filed out of the elevator once the doors slid open, each of them armed with an assault rifle at the ready. They quickly split up, dividing the area into equal grids as Bruce ducked back into his hiding spot, and waited for an unlucky criminal to come his way.

The first thing Bruce saw in the office was the barrel of the thug's gun as the man slowly stepped into the office. Bruce waited for the right moment, and timed his attack to the exact point where he was directly behind the thug. He wasted no movement, immediately synching in a choke hold and rendering the thug unconscious in a matter of seconds. He made quick work of positioning the thug so that no one would be able to spot him from outside the office, and then began to strip the weapons and tactical clothing off the man.

Bruce knew he had to be quick as he worked, not wasting time taking off his own clothing, and instead just putting the thug's tactical gear over top of his own. In total, he might've taken just over two minutes to swap clothing before stepping out of the office. He walked slowly, ensuring that he wouldn't be the first to arrive back at the elevator where the other two were returning to.

As fortune would have it, one of the other men appeared to be in charge of the group, as that man pulled out a radio. "No signs of who did this yet boss." He said. "But someone definitely broke in."

"This feels kinda familiar." Came the response from Penguin. "I don't like it. Not one bit. Jones, I want you back here immediately. I think we need to hasten our exit."

"Yes sir." Jones replied right before he was struck with a bone shattering punch to the face.

The other thug didn't have any time to react before his nose was met with the butt of an assault rifle, and just like that, both men were down for the count. Bruce briefly looked over each of the two thugs for any identifying marks, and found that the only difference was that this Jones character had the radio on him. Thinking it might get him closer to the Penguin, Bruce decided to remove it from Jones' possession, and secured it to his own gear before seeking out anything that would properly bound the men together.

With the men tied up and safely out of play, Bruce began to make his way up for a face to face meeting with Penguin.

Diana could already see the panic beginning to build in the Penguin's features as he fidgeted around with his umbrella. She of course knew that the noises from outside had been caused by Bruce, and once she heard that Penguin's men hadn't located him was the precise moment that she noticed Penguin's confidence instantly drain away. He was obviously afraid that Batman had returned.

It was amazing to witness how just the mere thought of Batman could cause such a change in the way that Gotham's criminals would act. Penguin had gambled with a power play meant to put fear into all the upper class people who were looking to try to fix Gotham. But in doing so, He'd left himself exposed with his direct involvement.

Now the Penguin was rushing to get away as he continually barked orders to his men, instructing them to grab all the cash they could as a penalty to those attempting to invade upon his business practices. He wanted the loot, but he simultaneously wanted to make a hasty exit before a familiar face showed up to stop him. If only he knew how correct his suspicions were on who might well be coming for him. Diana only wished that Bruce could've had his cape and cowl to increase the effect if he did arrive.

By Diana's estimation, Bruce would've had enough time to already put in a call for help. However, there was also the possibility that he might've chosen to act instead in the interest of not giving Penguin any additional time to escape before help could get there. If that turned out to be the case, then Bruce would've had to have taken out the sentries Penguin had sent to go looking for him.

As if on cue, the lights suddenly flickered twice, adding to the ambiance of fear that was now spreading through all of the Penguin's men. Diana wondered for a moment if it was something Bruce had done or not, but regardless, the confusion caused by it gave her a distinct advantage to act. She instantly leapt into action, quickly and decisively putting the closest thug down before anyone knew what happened. She didn't pause for an instant, immediately charging toward the next closest assailant while also reaching down and ripping the Kryptonite inlaid suspenders off Superman.

Her initial thought was to just toss the suspenders out the balcony entrance, but then she realized that with the Kryptonite, there was some weight to the suspenders, and instead used her strength to form them into a sort of projectile. Diana's aim was true as the suspenders struck another armed thug directly in the face just before she slammed herself into another one. In less than ten seconds, she'd managed to take down three of the twelve adversaries. And even though it was unconfirmed, there was a great chance that Bruce had taken out the three that went looking for him, bringing the total down to just six.

Those remaining six men were all in the ballroom with her though, and Superman was just getting back to his feet. Her time had just about run out, and her attack had made enough noise to grab everyone's attention, but then a door suddenly burst open, allowing her to keep her advantage. The man who'd caused it was dressed just like the rest of the thugs, but it was more than obvious that he wasn't on their side. He used the butt of his rifle to knock another thug out cold and then threw his weapon at another one who was nearby him.

Diana knew instantly from the way this man moved that he was Bruce. All his movements were precise and carried purpose, and because of his actions, she only had four men left to stop. She saw Superman move as he jumped in front of a would be victim when one thug opened fire wildly, but no more than two rounds came out of the barrel before Superman had moved in and sufficiently disarmed him.

By that time, Diana had slammed into another man with brute force, knocking him into one of his partners and taking them both to the ground. Superman stepped in at that moment and turned their weapons into metal pretzels with his bare hands. Diana then turned to see Penguin with the tip of his umbrella pointed at Bruce's chest.

"You gotta be the Bat." Penguin said with an evil sneer as Bruce glared back at him. "Picked a bad time to forget your little jumpsuit though. You see, my men didn't wear Kevlar underneath."

The next thing that happened was so fast, but yet it also seemed to move in slow motion. Penguin held a devious smile as he pulled the trigger on the umbrella shaped gun while Bruce simultaneously had started to sidestep and also throw a violent strike aimed for Cobblepot's head. The punch landed true and with full force, dropping Penguin instantly, but at the same time Bruce spun around off balance, and eventually fell to the floor. It was all too obvious that Penguin's shot had also hit straight and true.

Diana knew they had to act immediately, and flew straight over to Bruce, quickly picking him up and giving the smallest of glances to Superman as she started to fly off. "I'm taking him for medical treatment." She said. "Make sure none of these men get away."

After a few seconds, and when they were safely out of earshot, Bruce spoke up. "No hospitals." He firmly ordered. "Get me to the Manor, and then have Kent bring Hannah there."

It heated Diana's jealousy to hear Bruce saying he wanted Hannah to be with him, but she did as he requested, using the communicator to relay his message to Kal. Diana then chose to remain quiet for the rest of the flight to the Batcave in an effort to reel in her streak of jealousy, . Bruce chose not to speak either, instead focusing on slowing the amount of blood he was losing.

Once they arrived, Diana attempted to give Bruce his space, acutely recalling the extreme stubbornness he had when it came to accepting help from others. But as soon as she released her hold on him, she could plainly see how wobbly his legs were. So she did the bare minimum in assisting him to the medical area of the cave, only providing him with enough support for him to keep his balance until he was up onto a gurney.

Diana then realized that they hadn't thought to call Alfred ahead of time. It was a mistake to believe that the household maintained Batman's scheduling when he hadn't been donning the cape and cowl. As a result, Alfred wouldn't have had any inkling that Bruce was in need of medical attention. It was highly likely that Bruce might've been acting purely on instinct without thinking about his caretaker being in the know, and as a result she was now regretting having listened to his instructions without hesitation.

Not wanting to fret over what had already happened, Diana went to work immediately. She relied on her memory to locate all of the medical supplies and equipment, and soon enough located a refrigerated container housing IV bags filled with blood. Each bag was clearly labeled for whom they were designated, and so she grabbed two bags as well as an IV stand before making her way back to Bruce's side.

She quickly noticed how his complexion had become pale while she'd been searching for medical supplies, and took some gauze to better compress over the wound. Bruce helped her to set up the IV in order to replenish what blood he'd already lost, and at that point she went to grab Alfred. She required his expertise to finish patching Bruce up. She took the most direct approach, and it didn't take long to locate the faithful surrogate father, as he'd been stationed in the kitchen just as she'd anticipated.

Diana quickly explained the situation as she led Alfred down through the entrance to the cave, but just as she'd finished with the details, she picked up the voice of Hannah, who was basically blubbering emotionally to Bruce about how worried she'd been about him. It was easy to tell that Hannah was legitimately concerned, but also seemed like a reaction he normally would've frowned upon. He'd never wanted pity or concern pointed in his direction, and any other time he'd brush off the notion of being in pain, acting as though nothing at all had happened to him.

She slowed in her approach, taking advantage of her enhanced hearing to listen in to the ongoing conversation before either she or Alfred came into everyone's view.

"...use your x-ray vision." Bruce finished saying to the Man of Steel. "You can confirm that I'll be fine faster than anyone or anything else."

"The bullet is still in there, but luckily enough didn't hit a major organ. It barely missed hitting your left lung." Superman said after he scanned Bruce's injury. "Once Alfred removes it and stitches him up, you'll be good as new."

"And Diana already went up to get him." Bruce added for good measure. "They should be down here any minute."

"Why couldn't either of you do anything to stop these mad men?" Hannah accusingly asked Superman.

"I'm sorry, but the Justice League does what we believe will save the most lives." Superman tried to explain. "If either Diana or I could've done anything to keep Bruce from getting hurt without risking the lives of others, we would have."

"Some heroes you are." Hannah mumbled under her breath just as Alfred and Diana walked into view.

Diana and Hannah gave each other heated glares before the future Mrs. Wayne finally moved so that she wouldn't be in the way of Alfred as he started working on Bruce's injury. He didn't hesitate in assisting his ward, having either not heard Hannah's comment or letting it slide due to more important matters to contend with. There was however, at least one person in the room who did hear what she'd said, and he wasn't about to let it go so easily.

"There was nothing more they could've done." Bruce stated emphatically. "Not without risking innocent lives. They made the correct choice to wait for the right opportunity to act."

"Why did it have to be you?" Hannah heatedly asked as she spun around to glare at her fiancé. "We've been over this so many times. You aren't this unmatchable, omnipotent power for Gotham City. But at the first hint of danger, you eagerly jump right back into the thick of things. It's like your addicted to throwing yourself into harm's way."

"I went over a litany of feasible outcomes." Bruce retorted. "I thought about getting outside the building so that I could call for help, but even if I had, not even the Flash could've gotten there quickly enough. The highest level of success in that situation was to take out as many of Penguin's men as I could, and then create a diversion to give Clark and Diana a chance to take the rest of them down."

"Bruce." Hannah murmured as she closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose, before looking back up to him. "You know how I feel about this, and I'm not going to argue with you over it again. I understand your desire to continue your parents' efforts to make Gotham City a safer place to live, but maybe its time for you to think about other options. What you're doing is not mentally healthy."

"Do you even hear yourself?" Diana said, jumping to Bruce's defense. "At just the mere notion that Batman might've shown up, the Penguin and his men were cowering in fear. Before that, they were relaxed and in complete control. Penguin planned for the event, knowing how to incapacitate Superman. He knew that we wouldn't risk the lives of others so long as he held to his threat of murdering people if I acted. One life just to keep Bruce from having to become involved was too high a cost. It's too high a cost for any of us."

"Funny Wonder Woman." Hannah said, spitting out Diana's moniker in pure disdain. "Exchanging one life for Bruce's. Now I understand why all of you have never been more than mere acquaintances to Bruce. None of you will risk innocent lives. That is unless its Bruce's. That's where my opinion differs from yours."

With that said, Hannah then stormed off toward the Manor entrance. Clark made sure to remain between Diana and Hannah as the latter walked by, and potentially saved yet another life by doing so. Diana was fuming, and had she been granted the power of heat vision, Hannah may very well have provided the evidence to answer if a human's head could actually melt into a gooey puddle or not.

Diana realized what Kal was doing, and perhaps after she'd had a few minutes to cool off, she might be able to thank him for his efforts and actually mean it. At that moment, she was too irate with Hannah. It was preposterous to imply that Bruce's life wasn't important to her or any other member of the Justice League. He meant so much to her, and also to their daughter. However, she also couldn't help but to think that there was a hidden message in what Hannah had said, and that the hidden message was very likely pointed directly at her.

Hannah had already accused Diana of being in love with Bruce, and there was reason to believe that Hannah had just questioned the strength of Diana's love for Bruce. It was as if Hannah was implying that her unwillingness to put Bruce's life at risk served as proof that her love was more pure. If she actually believed that Diana preferred risking Bruce's life over others, then she was sadly mistaken.

"We never wanted to put your life at risk Bruce." Clark said once Hannah had exited the cave. "I don't want you to think..."

"I don't." Bruce said, interrupting Clark. "I didn't see Penguin either until it was already too late. Retiring Batman seems to have dulled my skills of being mindful of my surroundings."

"None of us were able to spot him." Diana said as she fought to calm her temper. "No one is to blame, and certainly not you."

"Yes I am." Bruce responded angrily as a clinking sound echoed when Alfred dropped the slug that had been imbedded into Bruce's shoulder into a metal tray. "You were right Diana. I've been lying to myself all this time to think that by creating jobs and building low income houses, it would be enough to save Gotham without Batman's continued involvement."

"Does that mean that Batman will be making a return?" Diana asked, her anger instantly forgotten and replaced by hope of hearing that her fellow warrior was returning.

"Yes." Bruce answered succinctly.

"In what capacity?" Superman asked, probing for any additional details.

"Gotham comes first." Bruce replied, stating the obvious. "And then once things have settled, a return to part time League status comes next. That is, if it's approved by the remaining founders."

"I'm sure you have two votes in favor right here." Diana said with a smile plastered on her face. She hadn't realized until that moment just how much she'd actually missed seeing Batman traipsing about the various areas of the Watchtower or fighting alongside him. Giving thought to it, she realized that it was actually the first time things felt like they were back to how they'd been before her time traveling mission, and she was extremely grateful for that.

"We'll handle all the formalities so that all your access codes are reactivated." Superman said jovially. "Just come up whenever you're ready."

Diana yawned as she waited for the delicious iced mocha to fill her cup from the dispenser. It had been a long past few days with all the activity picking up around the world. It seemed like with Batman sightings circulating throughout Gotham once again, that the Justice League could focus more on large scale issues. There'd had been plenty of late to deal with, seeming like the world had waited until Batman's return for trouble to brew elsewhere.

Diana hadn't had much in the way of a break in over the last three days, and she'd planned to stop just long enough to grab her caffeinated beverage of choice before heading to the teleporters and then home. She had an eleven month old baby girl to spend time with, and with a little bit of luck, she might even have a few moments to spare in planning a birthday party for her precious daughter as well.

With her cup filled, Diana closed her eyes as she raised the drink up to her lips. Before taking her first sip, she took in the aroma, enjoying every facet that her drink had to offer. But then her quiet moment was interrupted by the distinct gust of air that always served notice that the Flash had just arrived.

"Have you heard?" Wally excitedly asked as he haphazardly made himself a cup while standing right next to her.

Diana raised one brow in question as she had no idea what he might be referring to. She sincerely hoped that he didn't want to talk about another girl he'd managed to convince into going on a date with him, and certainly not after the last story he'd attempted to share with her on that topic.

"Batman?" Wally questioned as an expansion to his earlier question. "He's back...Here."

"I know Wally." Diana replied. "Kal was planning to make the announcement during tomorrow's meet..."

"No, like literally Di." Wally said, not allowing her to finish. "He's here. Onboard the Watchtower. Right now."

"Where?" Diana asked, her exhaustion now forgotten.

"I haven't seen him yet, but I heard some JL members talking about seeing him exiting the teleporter just a couple minutes ago." Wally explained. "I just started looking for him. So far, he isn't in the Monitor Womb, the training rooms, or the cafeteria."

Diana immediately took flight as she was more than anxious to find Bruce. She zipped through corridors until eventually spotting him standing just outside Kal's personal quarters. He was talking to Kal, and Diana barely took notice of the odd look on Kal's face. However, she didn't think much of it as she came up from behind Bruce and put a welcoming hand onto his shoulder.

"Its good to officially have you back Bru..." Diana started to say until she interrupted herself with an uncontrolled gasp, having just realized what was the cause behind Kal's odd expression as Batman turned to face her.

A/N: Not much of a cliffy there, but I think it was a good stopping point. I want to thank CrazyPhenom, LOTSlover, Ni Castle, DDLo18, Zenness, karim76, Legionis and the 3 guests for the reviews.

I saw the question in one about the baby's age, and I had to go back to count up all of the gaps in time I've jumped to gather what should be an acceptable answer. By the point of the fundraiser, Alessandra would be about 11 months old, and quickly closing in on 1 year by the end of this chapter.

I think I answered your question CP, on snapping Bruce back into Batman. There's just no way he'd sit out when one of his villains comes out and crashes his party.

So, we're finally back to getting Bruce on his way back to being himself again, and that will mean the eventual arrival of our favorite DC couple. I've got a lot in store for the next few chapters, so hopefully it will keep you all on the edge of your seats. Stay tuned and thanks for the reviews!